20 July 2010

Yes, I Am Sure It Is A Sign (Three Signs, Actually)

I own three old wall-signs. None of them is particularly beautiful (they are ugly) but each of them has a message that speaks to me as a kind of “spiritual flashcard.”
I got the first one from my mother-in-law. I asked if I could have the sign that had hung in their dining room for decades and chripped out its blunt but truthful reminder to me at every Sunday dinner. It is just a small piece of pine board with a decoupage flower, about 45 years old. Why did I ask for it? It reminds me of God's continual goodness to me and my inattention to this truth. It says (not very delicately):
“Home is where you’re treated the best and grumble the most.”
The second sign I begged off my grandmother, and it is even humbler--it is probably close to 65 years old. This is also a small piece of wood, but is blackened by grease, cigarette smoke and age. On it is a painting of a man in a fancy top hat and a woman in a fur stole and pearl necklace. Behind them is the old skyline of New York City. Its message to me is a reminder of the difference between money and wealth. It reads:
“We don’t want to be rich. Just live like them.”
We think that rich people are happy but it's not true. What you see is the fleeting smile of self-satisfaction (and comfortable new shoes). People who can give away are the happy ones; to be wealthy is to be able to give. It is possible to be rich, or middle-class, or poor and also to be poor-at-heart and greedy, and tightfisted (which translates into their relationships). Only the wealthy can afford give, and give. I know I am wealthy because I can give—if only of my time and attention. Life can be one continual Grand Give-Away because I have a Benefactor who is a Provider. Not only that, this Provider cares for me and always has my best interests at heart. Oh, of course, He is also only the Keeper and Owner of the Universe. My well-being is bound up in His wealth. It’s as simple as that.

The third sign I bought 34 years ago as a newlywed. It is the only thing that I own that has lasted though 22 house moves, including three moves overseas and back again. It is a white piece of fiberboard and has a bible verse on it. This scripture is for me key to spiritual soundness in a distracting, dizzying and always confusing world:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”
- Jesus Christ
Matthew 22:37-40
God does not call to me as someone in a collective. No, He calls me by name. And this little sign, I take as His word to me today--not as a piece of information to pass along, or to pass by as if for someone else.
 Indeed, if this little sign is all I pay attention to in one day, then I have accomplished much. And all for His Glory.